View Full Version : Small Town Ambulances

08-07-2006, 01:03 PM
After the great information supplied about fire fighters, I have a question about Ambulances. When you live in small, isolated, rural towns, do you have an ambulance service? If so, is it staffed by volunteers?
I am writing an article for a publication in the US about the volunteer Ambulance officers in Australia and wanted to compare the two systems.

08-07-2006, 06:54 PM
Many times the ambulance and fire departments are combined in small towns into one department. In the small town in which I live, our emergency and fire departments are separate.

Around here (in Ohio and West Virginia) they are usually staffed by volunteers, but in recent years, the number of volunteers has decreased enough that some departments have been going to a partially-paid service. They will hire one or two paid paramedics or EMTs per shift--maybe just during the day when everyone is working--and then the volunteers staff it at night.

The rule for our department is that when you are on duty, you must be within a six-minute travel time to the squad building, and you are notified of a call via pager.

08-07-2006, 07:34 PM
Our ambulance service is located in the town that is the county seat. . .it has a population of about 6500. It's where our courthouse, hospital, etc. is located. All the little towns around, as I mentioned in the fire department thread, have volunteer fire departments, but the only ambulances we have operate out of the fire department in the county seat town and they provide service county wide. . ..approximately 25 miles in any direction from where the ambulance service is housed.

As Schwebb mentioned, the fire department and the ambulance are housed in the same building in our town and the same guys (EMT's) work both. I believe they have shift work like 2 days on and 3 days off (thats just an example- I'm not sure about how many on/off). I do know while they are on, they are there 24 hrs. day. . .sleep there & everything.

911 service has only been available to us for 2 or 3 years. They finally numbered our roads; before that ambulance service to outlying areas had only the caller to supply directions. Even now, it is sometimes quicker and easier to just load the person up and head for the hospital rather than wait on an ambulance to arrive.

08-07-2006, 09:56 PM
We have E-911 here (rural Indiana) so the county dispatch sees the road address when you call in. Our county roads are numbered on a grid and everyone is SUPPOSED to have their 5-digit address prominently displayed. (Oops for me -- we just have it on the mailbox)

Each township has one or more volunteer fire stations adn volunteers run the ambulance, also known as a rescue unit. They are trained as EMTs (emergency medical technicians)

If things are really bad, they can call for paramedics from one of the in-town fire departments.

One of the busiest railroad lines in the US cuts one of our townships in half, so they built two fire stations to avoid getting "railroaded."

Some of the funding comes from government sources but they also have fund-raisers. Once in awhile it's "fill the boot" where the firemen stand at an intersection and ask drivers stopped for the light to give all their loose change.

More typically it's an all-you-can-eat fish fry, lots of times with foldign tables and chairs set up in the fire house with the trucks parked outside. At one notable fish fry DH and his cousin got into a contest and he *had* to win, eating 16 fish fillets in a row. The other popular fund raiser would be a hog roast.

They use funds to update equipment and training -- various reasons.

In rural areas they often have tanker trucks to carry water since there are no water lines or fire hydrants in most cases. They also often have "grass rigs" -- a 4WD pick up rigged with fire fighting equipment for grass fires. The tanker trucks used to be modified from milk hauling trucks -- the tankers that go from farm to farm to pick up milk for the dairies. I don't know if that is still done.

The townships and cities have mutual-aid agreements. The last time one of the big city fire trucks came out with a ladder truck was for a barn fire.

Hope that helped. Several of DH's friends are volunteer firemen.


08-07-2006, 10:31 PM
I live in a rural area and what we have is a county ambulance service that is tax supported, that was approved by voters some years ago. We got 911 services (with renaming of all county roads) about ten years ago.

In the county just south of where I live - even more rural than where I live - there was a paid subscription ambulance service for many years. Basically, the ambulance would only serve those who had a paid subscription for service and it was quite costly. That, fortunately, has given way to a better system.

In the same area, one of the towns has a metro supported ambulance service.

As a side note - Now back in my childhood, most ambulances (and this was in many places in the US) were run by the local funeral homes....but that was then, this is now!

08-08-2006, 03:46 AM
I have a question about Ambulances. When you live in small, isolated, rural towns, do you have an ambulance service? If so, is it staffed by volunteers?

As a long-time firefighter/paramedic, I can tell you that the answer is as different as the many and varied small towns of America.

1. Some small towns use third-party ambulance services run by private companies or local hospitals/clinics. These are usually staffed by paid paramedics or EMT's.

2. Other small towns run their own ambulance service, usually connected to the fire department (but not always) and usually run by volunteers or paid part-timers. These are usually staffed by EMT's, not paramedics.

3. Still others have no access to ambulances at all (remote rural or mountain towns especially) and instead depend on services in bigger cities. They usually have long wait-times for EMS, and sometimes use helicopter services, helpful neighbors or other arrangements to get close enough for an ambulance to pick them up.

4. Or conversely they may use local ambulances to get them close enough for a helicopter to pick them up....whatever works well for them.

None of this is written in stone, but generally speaking this is how it works in this country.

Feel free to pm me for more info.


08-08-2006, 04:19 AM
I live in a town of about 1200, and we have a combined volunteer fire and ambulance corps. They receive funding through our taxes to purchase equipment. They keep scanners in their homes and you can contact via scanner or local phone call.